05-0514R


RESOLUTION APPROVING SETTLEMENT OF A LAWSUIT BY ROBERT AND ADELE UNZEN IN THE AMOUNT OF $130,000.

BY COUNCILOR REINERT:

     RESOLVED, that the proper city officials are authorized to pay to Robert Unzen and Adele Unzen $130,000 in full and final settlement of a lawsuit arising out of an accident occurring on October 22, 2001; payment to be made from the Self Insurance Fund 610-036-1651-5841.


STATEMENT OF PURPOSE:  On October 22, 2001, Robert Unzen fell on the interior stairs of the Enger Golf Course Clubhouse. As a result, he sustained serious, permanent injuries and medical expenses exceeding $70,000. He alleged that his fall was caused when he tripped on a metal nosing that held down a rubber matting protecting the stair surface. The nosing and matting were not flush. Plaintiff alleged that the displacement between the nosing and matting was a hidden tripping hazard. The city’s liability is based upon the legal principle that the standard of care owed to users of recreational facilities is the same care owed to a trespasser. The artificial conditions maintained by the city must be sufficiently visible that it is reasonable to assume that an individual will discover it. In response to the city’s motion for summary judgment, the court held that there was sufficient evidence to require a jury trial on whether the metal nosing on the stairs was sufficiently visible. This decision was affirmed by the Minnesota court of appeals.


The city of Duluth has investigated this claim and verified the damages and expenses. The civil division of the city attorney’s office analyzed the city’s loss exposure. Settlement negotiations were conducted by a mediator, and an agreement has been reached in the amount of $130.000. Settlement also protects the city from liability potential litigation costs and disbursements and prejudgment interest if plaintiffs were to prevail at trial. The city attorney’s office recommends this settlement.

 

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